Objectives of the Youth Coding Initiative
In April 2021, UNESCO and its strategic and financial partner CODEMAO jointly launched the UNESCO/CODEMAO “Youth Coding Initiative”. This partnership came at a timely moment as UNESCO adopted its 2022-2029 Operational Strategy for Priority Africa. The major objective of the Strategy is to harness new and emerging technologies for sustainable development on the continent. CODEMAO – China’s largest kids coding online education platform, has sought to associate itself with UNESCO in reaching this common goal. As such, the Initiative aims to promote the inclusive and safe use of technology to advance equitable development of education in Africa and beyond. In particular, the objectives of the project are to:
- improve the coding and AI skills of young people and teachers in Africa and Asia;
- strengthen international cooperation on emerging technologies and foster a more global understanding of the ethical principles related to AI;
- create an enabling and sustainable environment for coding education in Africa and Asia.
We have this initiative to provide the students in developing countries or rural areas the same access to coding education. Thus, these students will not only be the players or consumers of future technologies, tools, and games but also be creators, producers, and designers of the future world.
Mr. Tianchi Li, CEO of CODEMAO, China
The Contextual Analysis and Foresight Unit for Priority Africa at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris coordinates the project. The co-implementation partners include CODEMAO, UNESCO IITE, and four UNESCO Field Offices in the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of the Congo, and the Kingdom of Thailand.
IITE is very proud of being part of this global team for the Africa-Asia youth coding initiative. Hence, we thank and congratulate our partners and, most importantly, our fellow teachers for their enthusiasm and engagement. You are the stars of this initiative! You are the enlightener and guide for the youth and future of the world.
Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of UNESCO IITE
For the successful implementation of the initiative, the partners closely cooperated with the UNESCO Field Offices in the target countries. It allowed to identify pilot institutions and mobilize teachers for the project activities at the local level. In October 2021, the partners identified the learning objectives of the trainings, beneficiary groups, and evaluation strategies. In parallel, UNESCO IITE actively supported the development and tailoring of training materials to the capacities of teachers. This led to the first activity of the project – a coding education training for teachers using a popular graphical coding tool Kitten Editor.
Trainings for teachers
Following preparatory work undertaken by teachers, two coding webinars for teachers in English and French were organized in December 2021. The first webinar, held on 6 December, included a glimpse of youth coding education globally and the introduction of Kitten Editor. The second interactive session with teachers took place on 14 December, after a guided self-learning week. It aimed to address teachers’ questions on the use of the Kitten Editor and the creation of coding projects. As a result, these events helped teachers strengthen their skills in teaching coding by learning from a CODEMAO expert.
In today’s increasingly digitalized world, it is vital for youth in Africa and Asia to have the digital skills necessary to develop their solutions to local and regional challenges. A large portion of new jobs in STEM are in computing. Therefore, training Asian and African youth in the field is an opportunity to boost their employability in the future.
Mr. Yue Du, Director of the Division for Priority Africa Coordination, UNESCO PAX/AFR
The trainings generated significant interest of around 100 participants. They included the selected teachers from the target countries, representatives from UNESCO, IITE, CODEMAO, and local networks.
As part of their learning activities, teachers used the Kitten Editor to create personalized coding projects. This activity allowed them to apply the skills they had learned throughout the training. The organizers received 82 projects from participants in 4 target countries, with 51% of these projects prepared by female teachers. The overall feedback on these projects was positive, highlighting a solid grasp of the learning materials.
Evaluation and certification
In January 2022, teachers received 10 lesson plans and other teaching materials provided by CODEMAO. They used and adapted the materials for teaching coding to their students. After that, In February-March 2022, they took a self-evaluation on the features of the Kitten Editor. Teachers will soon be taking a final evaluation, in which they will demonstrate the acquired competencies. Successful teachers will receive training certificates from the project stakeholders. In addition, they will participate in upcoming trainings and activities to complement and disseminate their coding skills and teaching competencies.